Category Archives: cool

more help from stackoverflow

I realize I asked this question a while back, but in reviewing some of my history, I was reminded of how helpful the site has been for a variety of issues.

And I’m sure that questions like this one regarding VMware and VPNs is something “I should have known” – but not knowing where to look for appropriate data is what makes sites like these so helpful.

I do still wonder, though, how we remember what we know, and whether out-sourcing our collective minds is still a Good Idea™…

tiny code

I ran across the Tiny Code site recently, and was reminded of how many of us started programming on ancient machines that barely had enough horsepower to handle typing – yet we’d spend hours on end writing little games and whatnot that had to be small or they wouldn’t run.

I’d love to see a return to a minimalist approach to development – but I know it’s only a pipe dream.

the trilogy as a source of help

I’ve been a user on stackoverflow since shortly after it debuted last year. I’m also becoming active on superuser and serverfault.

Today I have a prime example of why these services are so helpful. I have a small db scripting problem. After googling’ for a while with various combinations of keywords, including attempting to make heads or tails of the MySQL documentation, I asked this question on SO.

Inside of a couple minutes, several folks answered my question, pointing to exactly the part of the manual I couldn’t find on my own.

Volunteer communities are awesome.


We’re driving down I-86. Where? Near the town of Cuba New York. Time? About 1945. Date? 25 July.

Due to some unavoidable delays earlier, we got a later start to our trip to Oshkosh for the EAA AirVenture week. As the sun is getting lower in the sky, we realize that we haven’t eaten in several hours, and this looks like a good area to take a stretch break anyway.

We’ve been looking for a place to stop for about 20 minutes when on the blue sign for the upcoming exit we see “Moonwinks”. That sounds different. I make the executive decision from the backseat that this is where we’re going to try for dinner. If it looks sketchy of uppity when we get there, there’s something random fast food joint a couple miles further we can go to instead.

As we head the mile or so north on Route 305, we see this rather normal-looking building at the crux of a Y intersection, with a large sign reading “Moonwinks” in the roof. This must be the place.

The parking “lot” (ie, the packed dirt and gravel around the building) is packed. This is a Good Sign™. It means either a) they’re really good, or b) there’s no place else to go. I’m choosing option ‘a’, because it’s more optimistic.

We park and look for a door. There’s some kind of party going on in the front of the place, so we go in the side. Turns out this is actually the front door. We’re seated almost immediately.

The dining area we’re ushered-to has seating for about 60 people. The wedding reception out front is in another dining area which could hold as many as 150, I think.

The menu is pretty simple – classic American choices: some pasta dishes, seafood, steak, chicken… they all look good. I opt for the lemon whitefish with capers. Mom got an industrial-sized salad with a grilled chicken breast on top to share with my sister. I don’t remember what dad ordered – I’m too fixated on the huge fish fillet that came out.

I barely got myself around the dinner I ordered. I would have been better-off leaving a little.. but it was addicting! Mom and Josie’s salad lasted past one meal, too. Dad didn’t make it all the way through his plate of food – but bringing that with us wasn’t a good idea – wouldn’t keep well, or reheat at all.

The only thing I have against Moonwinks is that it’s too far from where my parents live to go just for dinner. Anything up to maybe 2.5-3 hours may be worth the ride, but clear 4 hours, and it’s just a long ways to go for a meal 🙁

However, if I were going through anyways, or had a reason to be in the Finger Lakes region (airshows, vacation, whatever) – it’s definitely worth going to.

4.5 stars of 5.

want to reduce gas consumption?

Buy better tires.

I referenced Seth Godin earlier today in regards to investment in developing countries.

Why is it, then, that a marketing blogger would talk about wanting to reduce fuel consumption? I think it’s because it’s easier to relate to than streamlining other processes you may have in your business or development cycles. It’s something we can relate to directly.

If we assume that all the cars drive the same number of miles, which would be a better investment:

  • Get new tires for all the Suburbans and increase their mileage a bit to 13 miles per gallon.
  • Replace all the Priuses and rewire them to get 100 miles per gallon (doubling their average!)

That’s right – spend a little bit of money on the Suburbans, and cut fuel usage more than you could by doubling the efficiency of the already-efficient Prius.

Why? It’s because we think in MPG rather than GPM. What does thinking in miles-per-gallon do to our brains that gallons-per-mile would make clearer? Well, here’s the math:

  • Let m be number of miles driven by a car…
  • Let s be the gas consumption (in gallons) for Suburbans (= m/10)
  • Let p be the gas consumption (in gallons) for Priuses (= m/50)
  • Let T be the total consumption (in gallons) (= s + p = m/10 + m/50 = 6m/50 = 0.12/m)

So in Scenario #1, we have T = m/13 + m/50 = 50m+13m/650 = 63m/650 = 0.097m

And in Scenario #2, we have T = m/10 + m/100 = 11m/100 = 0.11m

Scenario #1 reduced consumption by 0.12-0.097 = 0.023; Scenario #2 only by 0.01; Scenario #1 is 2.3x more efficient!

This is due to a power-curve relationship early on in the MPG table, where a minute improvement (1 MPG on 10) is a huge percentage improvement (10%) at the front end whereas later-on it’s minuscule.

I thought it was neat 🙂

Original article –

The math as to why it works – or